Tag Archives: honesty

Follow this Plan for Stronger Emotional Health and Relationships

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness   (c)2019 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

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Photo by Jimmy Chan on Pexels.com

You live inside a cube with a window and door. Each of us does.

With you in your cube are what you value, and what makes you who you are. Your family, church, job, and hobby are in there. So are your favorite entertainments, and deep thoughts. In one corner is a dark spot of flaws and selfish behaviors.

All our cubes are filled in the same manner.

As you go throughout your day, bumping into other cubes, maybe annoyance grows.  Inside your private space with unchallenged ideas, you feel safe.

It is simple to dehumanize others we refuse to see.

Observe and connect

Open your window and watch from a distance superficially.  Possibly some faces look back at you making assumptions. You presume to know what they are thinking.

Communication is empty of understanding.

Ah, the door. Swing it wide and invite others in! Expose the real you. Take responsibility for your decisions. When you and at least one other person are welcome to enter and leave each other’s cubes freely, your basic human need for positive, meaningful connection will be met!

There is joyous give and take, generous communication, forgiveness, and honesty about darker egos. That is how we learn and grow.

Be emotionally healthy

You have no control over whether other cubes open. Let them go. You will not have freedom with everyone. However, it is not healthy to stay hidden inside, never reaching out, sharing, or helping.

It is not healthy to allow someone else to live in your cube trying to meet all your needs. It is equally not healthy and is dangerous to stay in another person’s cube, living for his or her happiness.

Whether family, friends, or romance, choose relationships wisely.  Within a positive and meaningful connection you need validation, to know someone values you enough to be involved, and genuine acceptance. Look for these.

A connection is ready 

Jesus offers all three.  He knows every second of your existence. This validation and acceptance is proven in Psalm 139. Jesus also showed how much he values you when he left heaven to sacrifice his body for your eternal soul.

If people in your life refuse to connect, remember you have One who always wants you to know him as he knows you.

Today’s Helpful Word  

Psalm 139: 1, 16 

“You have searched me, Lord and you know me… Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” 

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

Falsely Accused? Fight for Justice With Your Best Weapon

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c) 2018  Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

Jarrell drove safely over several months for a national share-a-ride service. It was working out so well he planned to do it as a flexible means of income while traveling the United States.

One evening, he received surprise news. He was fired. Answers to his plea for an explanation were simple and direct.  A rider had claimed Jarrell was driving recklessly. 

Life unravels

That was all it took – one false report from a self-absorbed liar vying for a free ride.  The growing company could afford to throw away employees, so there was no investigation. Jobless and with sinking dreams, Jarrell began a feverish search for work.

This triggered his anxiety disorder. Occasionally he was unable to function. Nearly losing his car and car insurance, the companies agreed to work with him.  Unable to pay his rent, the landlord took a financial hit as well.  Four months later, Jarrell landed a part-time job that barely pays his bills.

All this because someone casually lied.

Seeking truth

There was another player in this story besides Jarrell and the passenger. The company’s representative chose not to listen. 

Reputations are fragile. Loss of a good one can be devastating. We have all witnessed social media rip apart people’s lives while disinterestedly ignoring facts. Too often, careless rumors and assumptions are greeted with “I knew it!” instead of “let’s check the truth.”  I too have been falsely accused of behaviors out of my character. It is too bad, and sad, that some people have nothing better to do than destroy.

The best weapon

Honest and open communication is the only weapon I have found that works to restore a damaged reputation.  Jarrell’s boss shut down communication. This is the style of trolls, gossips, slanderers, and bullies as well.  

There is not much one can do when another is unwilling to hear. However,  there are those who will listen and encourage restoration.  You and I pursue justice when we refuse to sink into the ugly mire with liars. People will notice, eventually, that we are made of better stuff than false accusers imply. 

 

 

**********COMMENTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME.

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness, abuse, and addiction. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help are yours.

 

*car by ANA_KOLL and beach by WINCHILD on rgbstock.com

 

“Ghosts” of Christmas Present – Are You Pretending Everything Is OK?

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness   (c)2017 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

Sometimes our enemies join us at the Christmas dinner table. 

Even Scrooge, the miserly uncle in Charles Dickens’ The Christmas Carol, eventually sat down with his abused employee and family. Before the Cratchets understood he was there on a kind mission, they were distrustful and afraid.

The same is true of us around those who are against us. We feel uncomfortable while denial, rationalizations, pretending, and fears circulate through our bodies and minds. Once in a while we find comfort, however most often we are tense.

Someone suggests forgiving the past, and we are immediately lost in the confusion. What is forgiveness? Am I to trust this person again?  Maybe secrets are best left buried. 

Forgiveness is not endorsement of terrible behavior. It does not mean giving up healthy protective barriers, either. Forgiveness is a process that frees us to see the complete picture and set ourselves free of the pain that anger and resentment cause.

Forgiving ourselves.   

Forgiving  who  has  harmed us.

Forgiving who will not acknowledge wrongdoing.

Forgiving who has passed away.

Forgiving who continues to cause harm.

It can take time. Some people seem to pass through it in an afternoon. Others, like me, take longer. I had to put behavior behind my words and deliberately pursue change. 

The key was to name the loss, lay responsibility only where it belonged,  give up looking for an explanation, and acknowledge the whole story.  I could begin to see myself as once victimized and no longer a victim. 

Denial and pretending keep us stuck. So do anger and resentment. One therapist said,“Bitterness is the poison we drink while hoping someone else will die.”

Jesus said in his famous Sermon on the Mount,  “… love your enemies.” Holding someone accountable for their choices is one way of loving them. It gives them opportunity to repent and change.

Forgiveness is not all roses and tulips; sometimes it takes painful acknowledgment that grave sin has taken place. Once we rid ourselves of denial, and dig up those bitter roots,  planting the seeds of Christmas peace can begin.

Today’s Helpful Word

 

The Mental Health Difference Between Onions and Babies

CompassionateLove Blog: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness  (c)2017  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry

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A silly text from my son, “What is the difference between babies and onions?” raises my curiosity.   

Our relationships with babies and onions are polar opposite. Babies need us; onions could not care less we exist. Babies express excitement when we coo at them, onions not so much. Babies are lovable tiny humans we want to cuddle and prevent from harm, while onions are targets. Our aim is to destroy and devour onions. Yum!

Babies cry, onions make us cry. We choose temporary suffering while chopping onions because we want delicious additions to dinner. Babies cause us to cry also, however not because they’ve squirted us in the eye (usually).  

Babies make messes big and small. Eventually powder, brooms, and wet rags are not enough. Damage done by various outside influences brings unfortunate changes to once-clean minds, and hopes. Onions shed only skin, and rotten ones are easily tossed to protect good ones. We cannot preserve a baby’s innocence.

Babies develop layers of personality, beliefs, emotions, and self-protection. Onions come with layers that we purposefully peel away without double thinking it. Yet when babies are older, and they try to express themselves, sometimes they hear, “Be quiet,” or “You shouldn’t feel that way.”

Imagine how mental health will flourish if we encourage babies from onset to talk out their experiences and emotions without fear of judgment!  Admitting to humanness will no longer drive us to isolation. Humility will free relationships as we stop hiding. Turning our lives and false sense of control over to God will be welcome release!

We can influence the world for mental, emotional, and spiritual health by embracing vigorous honesty and radical acceptance of each other. This is the difference between a stinky vegetable and a beautiful baby.  We can grow in love.

Today’s Helpful Word

Philippians 1:9

“I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding.” – St. Paul

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COMMENTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME (see tab below)

NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.

onions picture by LUSI on rgbstock.com; baby picture by AMBROZ on rgbstock.com

 

 

 

 

 

I Care About Someone With a Troubled Past. What Can I Do to Help?

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2016  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry

Closeup portrait of two attractive middle-aged female friends chatting in the park in a healthy lifestyle concept

Love

Honesty

Safety

Common sense

These terms no doubt mean something to you. Perhaps they draw up comfortable and happy memories. Maybe they remind you of what you never had. These are motivating words representing goals most of us like the idea of reaching. They are also concepts beyond reality for some people .

The Challenge: When we speak of love, our intentions fall within a range from the trite (“I love tacos”) to near impossible-to-describe profoundness (“I love my child”).

What if you had never seen displayed, or received family love? Emotionally or otherwise neglected children need help learning how to relate and trust. Without that help, and no framework to identify healthy relationships, it is quite possible a good-hearted adult will miss out.

How to Support this Person: Be an example of unconditional love. This does not mean allowing unsettling behaviors to go unaddressed. In fact, love this person enough to have boundaries. Through gentle communication, show the beauty of love – that it does not abuse, take advantage, play the doormat, or endorse bad behavior. Instead, it builds up, hopes for the best, and has the other person’s best interests at heart.

The Challenge: Just how is one who has been dealt dishonesty throughout childhood or beyond supposed to recognize trustworthiness? Kind people may try to invest in victims who have been lied to or betrayed most of their life, but positive messages fall short. This is because the languages of truth and trust are not understood.

How to Support this Person: Be faithful. Have boundaries. Never lie. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Carefully avoid making foolish promises. Give it time, even years.

The Challenge: We often hear during send-offs or even in therapeutic situations the concerned sentiment, “Be safe.” It means different things in varying contexts. If a formally abused individual does not know safety exists, how is she or he supposed to self-protect in practical ways?

How to Support this Person: Teach them in word and by example that safety is our right and often our responsibility. While we cannot predict every scenario, we can be basically prepared.  Teach this person to take his or her time in choosing emotionally safe friends. Provide information on how to draw healthy, not fear-producing, physical and emotional protections in relationships and situations. If you need help with this, ask for it.

The Challenge: Common sense may be elusive when a person has not been taught healthy ways of thinking, is emotionally incapable of moving beyond chaos, or whose circumstances have typically been manipulated on the vicarious whims of others.

How to Support this Person: Instead of pointing fingers and judging, try something constructive. You may help to change a life. First, set an example. Then gently encourage critical thinking. For instance, “What will be the result if you do such ‘n such?” “What do you want? Will this decision take you closer to your goal?” “What kind of person do you want to be, and what decisions today will help you be that kind of person?”  “Has this [behavior] worked in the past to help you or hurt you?”

None of us knows what we do not know. Everything we know has been at some point, taught to us. Investing in the future of another person looks different from self-righteousness, criticism, or superior assumptions of our knowledge.

Instead, change comes when we humbly accept the fact we are all learning. With this attitude we will change within, and become the kind of people able to lift others.

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COMMENTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME (see tab below)

NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.

– picture from Kozzi.com

Timberline Knolls Treatment Center: We Find Beauty

Compassionate Love:Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2014 Nancy Virden

handsEight months ago a tiny kitchen was packed with about fifteen women. I was scared as this was my first night at Timberline Knolls, a residential rehabilitation center near Chicago, Illinois.

It was not clear who was new to the program and who were veterans of the process. Each woman was sad, some crying, a few angry, and many of us confused. Later I was to learn that thirty-five traumatized and addicted women lived in this lodge. The tiny kitchen was not for regular use, but mostly for newcomers. I’d been surrounded by women as nervous as I that first night.

Within a few days we had bonded, and it only took that long because of my hesitations. In groups we talked about the concerns and stories that brought us to Timberline. In private we supported each other through hugs and shared tears. None of this looked like what I’ve seen in churches, workplaces, or families. There were no masks; it was intense, yet such a relief to know our hurts and self-destructive behaviors did not make us unacceptable in this place.

I saw women battling mental illnesses and flashbacks, reliving traumas as if they were current. There was crying, dissociating, isolating, anger, sadness, and hope. Residents shook in fear at facing their emotional nemeses recognizing there was no other option but death. Courage was palpable.

Passing the women with buried heads, rocking back and forth, was a parade of people saying , “We are here for you.” In the dining hall at a table full of desperation, there were games, laughter, and comic relief.  If one triumphed even once over an eating disorder there was a chorus of “Good for you. You’ve got this.”

I came home changed. Not only had some serious issues of my own been addressed, but I no longer desired the company I’d been pursuing.

For two years, a group of beautiful people, acquaintances with money and class, had been my X that marks the spot. It was this group in which I tried to find good friends. Yet they had not welcomed me on any deep level. I was lonely and distrustful. Attempts to reach out had most often been met with superficial niceness or indifference.

At Timberline I discovered why I didn’t seem to fit in with this group. My people, the ones I feel most comfortable around, are those who struggle with life and are honest about it.  I like recovering addicts. There is little pretension among those in recovery. The ground is level in rehab.

I like trauma survivors. They get it when a mood grows suddenly dark, and do not judge anyone else’s fears. I like people who fight phobias. They grasp whatever tool they have to use to prevent panic, regardless what the crowd about them thinks.

This past Friday it was my great privilege to return to Timberline Knolls and encourage current residents with my honest story.  They appreciated what I had to say and asked tough questions like, “Would you do anything different if you could go back?”  “Do you feel your children have been damaged by your choices?  Are you still in recovery?”

These people are real. If everything I’ve endured in my life brought me to them, I am grateful.  I did not expect this, yet these are the ones I admire. These are the beautiful people.

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NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline   1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help can be yours.

*picture from qualitystockphotos.com

 

 

 

Revealing One’s True Self

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2013 Nancy Virden

american flag on the pole

The closet in which I confined myself was named “Privacy” and “Image.” It is a popular type of closet.

Few people recognize when someone else is in a closet, and most never know when they’ve made a home of one for themselves. The nature of a closet is darkness. It’s tough to see or hear once inside.

From the outside, an onlooker may see a pristine showpiece; light on the inside is assumed. The closet-dweller’s eyes have grown accustomed to the dark, and he or she fails to understand the reality of the situation.  What are people hoping no one else will discover?

For me, privacy and image were so important I rarely allowed honest emotions to show. In fact, I didn’t know them myself. In the last twelve months, I inched my way out of that closet.

America too is, at least on the surface, becoming more aware and willing to talk about mental illness. A few old stereotypes are failing to hold up under increasing scrutiny. Stigma is rampant, however, and a high percentage of those who struggle do so behind closed doors.

This past week, I heard from a few readers of my second book who each stated their appreciation for my honesty and openness. Me? Open? That is flabbergasting, but I can look back and see my old closet is further behind me than even a few months ago. My desire to remain free has so far counteracted  a continuing temptation to return to safety.

Until we open our doors to listen to, learn from, and invest in those who are different from us, our country, schools, and churches will be shrouded in misunderstanding, polarization, stigma, and denied blindness. Compassionate love leaves its closets behind, shining its light of vulnerable realness in order for everyone to be encouraged.

Here’s to being free in America. Happy Independence Day!

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NOTE: I am not a trained or licensed mental health professional. I am not a doctor. I speak only from my experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or if you are concerned about someone who is,  please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help can be yours.

*photo from qualitystockphotos.com